Daily Lectures at Two
Ch'an Weeks - I
given at the Jade Buddha Monastery,
Shanghai, in 1953
(From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Nien P'u)
Tr. Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk)
The First Week
The First Day
THE Venerable Wei Fang, abbot (of this monastery),
is very compassionate indeed, and the chief monks are also earnest
in their efforts to spread the Dharma. In addition, all the
laymen (upasakas) here are keen in their studies of the truth
and have come to sit in meditation during this Ch'an week. All
have asked me to preside over the meeting and this is really
an unsurpassable (co-operating) cause. However, for the last
few years, I have been ill and am, therefore, unable to give
The World Honored One spent over forty years
in expounding the Dharma, exoterically and esoterically, and
his teaching is found in the twelve divisions
of the Mahayana canon in the Tripitaka. If I am asked
to give lectures, the most I can do is to pick up words already
spoken by the Buddha and Masters.
As to the Dharma of our sect, when the Buddha
ascended to his seat for the last time, he held up and showed
to the assembly a golden flower of sandalwood, offered to him
by the king of the eighteen Brahmalokas (Mahabrahma Devaraja).
All men and gods (devas) who were present, did not understand
the Buddha's (meaning). Only Mahakasyapa (acknowledged it with
a) broad smile. Thereupon the World Honored One declared to
him: "I have the treasure of the correct Dharma eye, Nirvana's
wonderful mind and the formless Reality which I now transmit
to you. This was the transmission outside of teaching, which
did not make use of scriptures and was the unsurpassed Dharma
door of direct realization."
Those who came afterwards, got confused about
it and (wrongly) called it Ch'an (Dhyana in Sanskrit and Zen
in Japanese). We should know that over twenty kinds of Ch'an
are enumerated in the Mahaprajna-paramita Sutra, but none of
them is the final one.
The Ch'an of our sect does not set up (progressive)
stages and is, therefore, the unsurpassed one. (Its aim) is
the direct realization leading to the perception of the (self-)
nature and attainment of Buddhahood. Therefore, it has nothing
to do with the sitting or not sitting in meditation during a
Ch'an week. However, on account of living beings' dull roots
and due to their numerous false thoughts, ancient masters devised
expediencies to guide them. Since the time of Mahakasyapa up
to now, there have been sixty to seventy generations. In the
Tang and Sung dynasties (619-1278), the Ch'an sect spread to
every part of the country and how it prospered at the time!
At present, it has reached the bottom of its decadence (and)
only those monasteries like Chin Shan, Kao Min and Pao Kuan,
can still manage to present some appearance. This is why men
of outstanding ability are now so rarely found and even the
holding of Ch'an weeks has only a name but lacks its spirit.
When the Seventh AncestorHsing
Szu of Ch'ing Yuan Mountain asked the Sixth Patriarch: "What
should one do in order not to fall into the progressive stages?"
the Patriarch asked: "What did you practice of late?"
Hsing Szu replied: "I did not even practice the Noble Truths."
The Patriarch asked: "Then falling into what progressive
stages?" Hsing Szu replied: "Even the Noble Truths
are not practiced, where are the progressive stages?" The
Sixth Patriarch had a high opinion of Hsing Szu.
Because of our inferior roots, the great masters
were obliged to use expediencies and to instruct their followers
to hold (and examine into) a sentence called hua t'ou. As Buddhists
(of the Pure Land School) who used to repeat the Buddha's name
(in their practice) were numerous, the great masters
instructed them to hold (and examine into the hua t'ou): "Who
is the repeater of the Buddha's name?" Nowadays, this expedient
is adopted in Ch'an training all over the country. However,
many are not clear about it and merely repeat without interruption
the sentence: "Who is the repeater of the Buddha's name?"
Thus they are repeaters of the hua t'ou, and are not investigators
of the hua t'ou('s meaning). To investigate is to inquire into.
For this reason, the four Chinese characters "chao ku hua
t'ou" are prominently exhibited in all Ch'an halls. "Chao"
is to turn inward the light, and "ku" is to care for.
These (two characters together) mean "to turn inward the
light on the self-nature". This is to turn inward our minds
which are prone to wander outside, and this is called investigation
of the hua t'ou. "Who is the repeater of the Buddha's name?"
is a sentence. Before this sentence is uttered, it is called
a hua t'ou (lit. sentence's head). As soon as it is uttered,
it becomes the sentence's tail (hua wei). In our inquiry into
the hua t'ou, this (word) "Who" should be examined:
What is it before it arises? For instance, I am repeating the
Buddha's name in this hall. Suddenly someone asks me: "Who
is repeating the Buddha's name?" I reply: "It is I."
The questioner asks again: "If you are the repeater of
the Buddha's name, do you repeat it with your mouth or with
your mind? If you repeat it with your mouth, why don't you repeat
it when you sleep? If you repeat it with your mind, why don't
you repeat it after your death?" This question will cause
a doubt to arise (in our minds) and it is here that we should
inquire into this doubt. We should endeavour to know where this
"Who" comes from and what it looks like. Our minute
examination should be turned inward and this is also called
"the turning inward of the hearing to hear the self-nature."
When offering incense and circumambulating in
the hall, one's neck should touch the (back of the wide) collar
of the robe, one's feet should follow closely the preceding
walker, one's mind should be set at rest and one should not
look to the right or to the left. With a single mind, the hua
t'ou should be well cared for.
When sitting in meditation, the chest should
not be pushed forward. The prana (vital energy) should neither
be brought upward nor pressed down, and should be left in its
natural Condition. However, the six sense organs should be brought
under control, and all thoughts should be brought to an end.
Only the hua t'ou should be gripped and the grip should never
loosen. The hua t'ou should not be coarse for it will float
up and cannot be brought down. Neither should it be fine, for
it will become blurred with the resultant fall into the void.
In both cases, no result can be achieved.
If the hua tou is properly looked after, the
training will become easier and all former habits will be brought
automatically to an end. A beginner will not find it easy to
hold the hua t'ou well (in his mind), but he should not worry
about it. He should neither hope for awakening nor seek wisdom,
for the purpose of this sitting in meditation in the Ch'an week
is already the attainment of awakening and wisdom. If he develops
a mind in pursuit of these ends, he puts another head upon his
Now we know that we should give rise only to
a sentence called hua t'ou which we should care for. If thoughts
arise, let them rise and if we disregard them, they will vanish.
This is why it is said: "One should not be afraid of rising
thoughts but only of the delay in being aware of them."
If thoughts arise, let our awareness of them nail the hua t'ou
to them. If the hua t'ou escapes from our grip, we should immediately
bring it back again.
The first sitting in meditation can be likened
to a battle against rising thoughts. Gradually the hua t'ou
will be well gripped and it will be easy to hold it uninterruptedly
during the whole time an incense stick takes to burn. We can.expect good results when it does not escape from our grip
The foregoing are only empty words; now let
us exert our efforts in the training.
The Second Day
To sit in meditation during a Ch'an week
is the best method which sets a time limit for realizing the
truth by personal experience. This method was not used in ancient
times for the ancients had sharp roots (and did not require
it). It has gradually been put into use since the Sung dynasty
(fell in 1278). In the Ch'ing dynasty (1662-1910), it was brought
into vogue and the Emperor Yung Cheng used to hold frequent
Ch'an weeks in the imperial palace. He entertained the highest
regard for the Sect and his own attainment of Ch'an samadhi
was excellent. Over ten persons realized the truth under the
imperial auspices and Master T'ien Hui Ch'e of the Kao Min monastery
at Yang Chou attained enlightenment during these meetings (in
the palace). The emperor also revised and improved for observance
the rules and regulations of the Sect, which flourished and
produced so many men of ability. The (strict observance of)
rules and regulations is, therefore, of paramount importance.
This method of setting a time limit for personal
experience of the truth is likened to a scholars' examination.
The candidates sit for it and write their compositions according
to the subjects, for each of which a time limit is set. The
subject of our Ch'an week is Ch'an meditation. For this reason,
this hall is called the Ch'an hall. Ch'an is dhyana in Sanscrit
and means "unperturbed abstraction". There are various
kinds of Ch'an, such as the Mahayana and Hinayana Ch'ans, the
material and immaterial Ch'ans, the Sravakas' and the Heretics'
Ch'an. Ours is the unsurpassed Ch'an. If one succeeds in seeing
through the doubt (mentioned yesterday) and in sitting on and
cracking the life-root, one will
be similar to the Tathagata.
For this reason, a Ch'an hall is also called
a Buddha's selecting place. It is called a Prajna hall. The
Dharma taught in this hall is the Wu Wei Dharma.
Wu Wei means "not doing". In other words, not
a (single) thing can be gained and not a (single) thing can
be done. If there be doing (samskrta),
it will produce birth and death. If there is gain, there will
be loss. For this reason, the sutra says: "There are only
words and expressions which have no real meaning." The
recitation of sutras and the holding of confessional services
pertain to doing (samskrta) and are only expediencies used in
the teaching school.
As to our Sect, its teaching consists in the
direct (self-) cognizance for which words and expressions have
no room. Formerly, a student called on the old master Nan Chuan
and asked him: "What is Tao?" Nan Chuan replied: "The
ordinary mind is the truth."
Every day, we wear robes and eat rice; we go out to work and
return to rest; all our actions are performed according to the
truth. It is because we bind ourselves
in every situation that we fail to realize that the self-mind
When Ch'an Master Fa Ch'ang of Ta Mei Mountain
called for the first time on Ma Tsu, he asked the latter: "What
is Buddha?" Ma Tsu replied: "Mind is Buddha."
Thereupon, Ta Mei was completely
enlightened. He left Ma Tsu and proceeded to the Szu Ming district
where he lived in a hermitage formerly belonging to Mei Tsu
In the Chen Yuan reign (A.D. 785-804)
of the T'ang dynasty, a monk who was a disciple of Yen Kuan
and went to the mountain to collect branches of trees for making
staffs, lost his way and arrived at the hut. He asked Ta Mei:
"How long have you stayed here?" Ta Mei replied: "I
see only four mountains which are blue and yellow." The monk said: "Please show me the mountain track so that
I can get out of here." Ta Mei replied: "Follow the
Upon his return the monk reported what he saw
in the mountain to Yen Kuan who said: "I once saw a monk
in Chiang Hsi province) but I have had no news of him since.
Is it not that monk?"
Then Yen Kuan sent the monk (to the mountain)
to invite Ta Mei to come (to his place). In reply, Ta Mei sent
the following poem.
A withered log in the cold forest
Does not change heart for several springs,
The woodcutter will not look at it.
How can a stranger hunt it?
A lotus pond yields boundless store of clothing:
More fir cones drop from pines than you can eat.
When worldly men discover where you live
You move your thatched hut far into the hills.
Ma Tsu heard of Ta Mei's stay on the mountain
and sent a monk to ask him this question: 'What did you obtain
when you called on the great master Ma Tsu and what prompted
you to stayhere?" Ta Mei replied: "The great master
told me that mind was Buddha and that is why I came to stay
here." The monk said: "The great master's Buddha Dharma
is different now." Ta Mei asked: "What is it now?'"
The monk replied: "He says it is neither mind nor Buddha."
Ta Mei said: "That old man is causing confusion in the
minds of others and all this will have no end. Let him say that
it is neither mind nor Buddha. As far as I am concerned, Mind
When the monk returned and reported the above
dialogue to Ma Tsu, the latter said: "The plum is now ripe."
This shows how the ancients were competent and
concise. Because of our inferior roots and perverted thinking,
the masters taught us to hold a hua t'ou (in our minds) and
they were obliged to use this expedient. Master Yung Chia said:
"After the elimination of the ego and dharma, the attainment
of reality will destroy the Avici hell in a moment (ksana).
If I tell a lie to deceive living beings, I will consent to
fall into the hell where the tongue is pulled out (as punishment
for my verbal sin)." Master
Yuan Miao of Kao Feng said: "Ch'an training is like throwing
into a deep pond a tile which sinks to the bottom." When
we hold a hua t'ou, we must look into it until we reach its
"bottom" and "crack" it. Master Yuan Miao
also swore: "If someone holding a hua t'ou without giving
rise to a second thought, fails to realize the truth, I will
be (ready) to fall into the hell where the tongue is pulled
out." The sole reason why (we do not succeed in our practice)
is because our faith (in the hua t'ou) is not deep enough and
because we do not put an end to our (wrong) thinking. If we
are firmly determined to escape from the round of births and
deaths, a sentence of the hua t'ou will never escape from our
grip. Master Kuei Shan said: "If in every reincarnation
we (can hold it firmly) without backsliding, the Buddha stage
can be expected."
All beginners are inclined to give rise to all
kinds of (false) thoughts; they have a pain in the legs and
do not know how to undergo the training. The truth is that they
should be firm in their determination to escape from the round
of births and deaths. They should stick to the hua t'ou and
no matter whether they walk, stand, sit or lie, they should
grasp it. From morning to evening, they should look into this
(word) "Who" until it becomes as clear as "the
autumn moon reflected in a limpid pool". It should be clearly
(and closely) inquired into and should be neither blurred nor
unsteady. (If this can be achieved) why worry about the Buddha
stage which seems unattainable?
If the hua t'ou becomes blurred, you can open
your eyes wide and raise your chest gently; this will raise
your spirits. At the same time, it should not be held too loosely,
nor should it be too fine, because if it is too fine, it will
cause a fall into emptiness and dullness. If you fall into emptiness,
you will perceive only stillness and will experience liveliness.
At this moment, the hua t'ou should not be allowed to escape
from your grip so that you can take a step forward after you
have reached "the top of the pole."
Otherwise, you will fall into dull emptiness and will never
attain the ultimate.
If it is loosely gripped, you will be easily
assailed by false thoughts. If false thoughts arise, they will
be difficult to suppress.
Therefore, coarseness should be tempered with
fineness and fineness with coarseness to succeed in the training
and to realize the sameness of the mutable and immutable.
Formerly I was at Chin Shin and other monasteries
and when the Karmadana received
the incense sticks which he had ordered (previously), his two
feet ran with great speed as if
he flew (in the air) and the monks who followed him were also
good runners. As soon as the signal was given, all of them looked
like automata. (Thus) how could wrong thoughts arise (in their
minds)? At present (although) we also walk (after sitting in
meditation), what a great difference there is between then and
When you sit in meditation, you should not push
up the hua t'ou for this will cause its dimness. You should
not hold it in your chest for it causes pain in the chest. Neither
should you press it down, for it will expand the belly and will
cause your fall into the realm of the five aggregates (skandhas) resulting in all kinds of defect. With serenity and self-possession,
only the word "Who" should be looked into with the
same care with which a hen sits on her egg and a cat pounces
on a mouse. When the hua t'ou is efficiently held, the life-root
will automatically be cut off.
This method is obviously not an easy one for
beginners, but you must exert yourselves unceasingly. Now I
give you an example. Self-cultivation is likened to making fire
with a piece of flint. We must know the method of producing
a fire and if we do not know it, we will never light a fire
even if we break the flint in pieces. The method consists in
using a bit of tinder and a steel. The tinder is held under
the flint and the steel strikes the upper part of the flint
so as to direct the spark to the tinder which will catch it.
This is the only method of starting a fire (with a flint).
Although we know quite well that Mind is Buddha,
we are still unable to accept this as a fact. For this reason,
a sentence of the hua t'ou has been used as the fire-starting-steel.
It was just the same when formerly the World Honored One became
thoroughly enlightened after gazing at the stars at night. We
are not clear about the self-nature because we do not know how
to start a fire. Our fundamental self-nature and the Buddha
do not differ from each other. It is only because of our perverted
thinking that we are (still) not liberated. So the Buddha is
still Buddha and we are still ourselves. Now as we know the
method, if we could inquire into it, it would indeed be an unsurpassing
co-operating cause! I hope that everyone here will, by exerting
himself take a step forward from the top of a hundred-foot pole
and will be elected (Buddha) in this hall so that he can pay
the debt of gratitude he owes to the Buddha high above and deliver
living beings here below. If the Buddha Dharma does not produce
men of ability, it is because no one is willing to exert himself.
Our heart is full of sadness when we talk about this (situation).
If we really have deep faith in the words uttered under oath
by Masters Yung Chia and Yuan Miao, we are sure we will also
realize the truth. Now is the time to exert yourselves!
The Third Day
Time passes quickly (indeed); we have only just
opened this Ch'an week and it is already the third day. Those
who have efficiently held the hua t'ou (in their minds) have
(been able to) clear up their passions and wrong thoughts; they
can now go straight home. For this
reason, an ancient (master) said:
Self-cultivation has no other method;
It requires but knowledge of the way.
If the way only can be known,
Birth and death at once will end.
Our way consists in laying down our baggage
and our home is very near. The Sixth Patriarch said: "If
the preceding thought does not arise, it is mind. If the following
thought does not end, it is Buddha."
Fundamentally, our four elements are void and
the five aggregates (skandhas) are non-existent. It is only
because of (our) wrong thoughts which grasp (everything) that
we like the illusion of the (impermanent) world and are thereby
held in bondage. Consequently, we are unable to (perceive) the
voidness of the four elements and (to realize) the nonexistence
of birth and death. However, if in a single thought, we can
have an experience of that which is not born, there will be
no need for those Dharma doors expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha.
(If so) can it still be said that birth and death cannot be
brought to an end? On that account, the brightness of our Sect's
Dharma really illumines the boundless space in the ten directions.
Master Teh Shan was a native of Chien Chou town
in Szu Ch'uan. His lay surname was Chou. He left home at the
age of twenty. After being fully ordained, he studied the Vinaya-pitaka
which he mastered. He was well-versed in the teaching of the
noumenal and phenomenal as expounded in the sutras. He used
to teach the Diamond Prajna and was called "Diamond Chou".
Said he to his schoolmates:
When a hair swallows the ocean
The nature-ocean loses naught.
To hit a needle's point with mustard seed
Shakes not the needle's point.
(Of) saiksa and asaiksa
I know and I alone.
When he heard that the Ch'an Sect was flourishing
in the South, he could not keep his temper and said: "All
who leave home take a thousand aeons to learn the Buddha's respect-inspiring
deportment and ten thousand aeons
to study the Buddha's fine deeds; (in spite of this) they are
still unable to attain Buddhahood. How can those demons in the
south dare to say that the direct indication of the mind leads
to the perception of the (self-) nature and attainment of Buddhahood?
I must (go to the south,) sweep away their den and destroy their
race to repay the debt of gratitude I owe the Buddha."
He left Szu Ch'uan province with Ch'ing Lung's
Commentary on his shoulders. When he reached Li Yang, he saw an old woman
selling tien hsin (lit. mind-refreshment)
on the roadside. He halted, laid down his load and intended
to buy some pastries to refresh his mind. The old woman pointed
at the load and asked him: "What is this literature?"
Teh Shan replied: "Ch'ing Lung's Commentary." The
old woman asked: "Commentary on what sutra?" Teh Shin
replied: "On the Diamond Sutra." The Old woman said:
"I have a question to ask you; if you can answer it, I
will offer you mind-refreshment. If you cannot reply, (please)
go away. The Diamond Sutra says: 'The past, present and future
mind cannot be found.' What do you want to refresh?"
Teh Shan remained speechless. He (1eft the place
and) went to the Dragon Pond (Lung T'an) monastery. He entered
the Dharma hall and said: "I have long desired to see the
Dragon Pond, but as I arrive here, neither is the pond seen
nor does the dragon appear." Hearing this, (Master) Lung
T'an came out and said: "You have really arrived at the
Dragon Pond." Teh Shan remained
speechless; he then (made up his mind to) stay at the monastery.
One night, while he was standing (as an attendant)
by Lung T'an, the latter said to him: "It is late now,
why don't you go back to your quarters?" After wishing
his master good night, he withdrew but returned and said: "It
is very dark outside." Lung T'an lit a paper-torch and
handed it to him. When Teh Shan was about to take the torch,
Lung T'an blew out the light.
Thereupon Teh Shan was completely enlightened
and made his obeisance to the master (to thank him). Lung T'an
asked him: "What have you seen" Teh Shan replied:
"In future, I will entertain no more doubt about the tips
of the tongues of the old monks all over the country."
The following day, Lung T'an ascended to his
seat and said to the assembly: "There is a fellow whose
teeth are like sword-leaf trees and whose mouth is like a blood
bath. He receives a stroke of the staff but does not turn his head.
Later, he will set up my doctrine on the top of a solitary peak."
In front of the Dharma hall, Teh Shan laid on
the ground all the sheets of the Ch'ing Lung Commentary in a
heap and raising a torch said: "An exhaustive discussion
of the abstruse is like a hair placed in the great void (and)
the exertion to the full of all human capabilities is like a
drop of water poured into the great ocean." Then he burned
the manuscript. He bade farewell to his master and left the
He went straight to Kuei Shin (monastery) and
carrying his baggage under his arm, he entered the Dharma hall
which he crossed from its east to its west side and then from
its west to its east side. He looked at the abbot (Master Kuei
Shan) and said: "Anything? Anything?" Kuei Shan was
sitting in the hall but paid no attention to the visitor. Teh
Shan said: "Nothing, nothing." and left the hall.
When he reached the front door of the monastery,
he said to himself: "Be that as it may, I should not be
so careless." Then, he turned back and again entered the
hall in full ceremony. As he crossed its threshold, he took
out and raised his cloth rug (nisidana),
calling: "Venerable Upadhyaya !"
As Kuei Shan was about to pick up a dust-whisk, Teh Shan shouted and left the hall.
That evening, Kuei Shan asked the leader of
the assembly: "Is the newcomer still here?" The leader
replied: "When he left the hall, he turned his back to
it, put on his straw sandals and went away."
Kuei Shan said: "That man will later go to some lonely
peak where he will erect a thatched hut; he will scold Buddhas
and curse Patriarchs."
Teh Shan stayed thirty years at Li Yang. During
the persecution of Buddhists by the Emperor Wu Tsung (A.D. 841-846)
of the T'ang dynasty, the master took refuge in a stone hut
on the Tu Fou mountain (in A.D. 847). At the beginning of Ta
Chung's reign, prefect Hsieh T'ing Wang of Wu Ling restored
the veneration of Teh Shan monastery and named it Ko Teh Hall.
He was looking for a man of outstanding ability to take charge
of the monastery when he heard of the master's reputation. In
spite of several invitations, Teh Shan refused to descend the
(Tu Fou) mountain. Finally, the prefect devised a stratagem
and sent his men falsely to accuse him of smuggling tea and
salt in defiance of the law. When the master was brought to
the prefecture, the prefect paid obeisance to him and insistently
invited him to take charge of the Ch'an hall where Teh Shan
spread widely the Sect's teaching.
Later, people talked about Teh Shan's shouting
and Lin Chi's caning. If we can
discipline ourselves like these two masters, why should we be
unable to put an end to birth and death? After Teh Shin, came
Yen T'ou and Hsueh Feng. After Hsueh Feng, came Yun Men and
Fa Yen, and also state master Teh
Shao and ancestor Yen Shou of the Yung Ming (monastery). They
were all "produced" by (Teh Shan's) staff.
During the past successive dynasties, the Sect
was kept going by great ancestors and masters. You are here
to hold a Ch'an week and you understand very well this unsurpassed
doctrine which will enable (us) without difficulty to attain
direct (self) cognizance and liberation from birth and death.
However, if you trifle with it and do not train seriously, or
if from morning to evening, you like to behold the "demon
in the bright shadow" or to make your plans inside "the
den of words and expressions", you will never escape from
birth and death. Now, all of you,
please exert yourselves diligently.
The Fourth Day
This is the fourth day of our Ch'an week. You
have exerted yourselves in your training; some of you have composed
poems and gathas and have presented them to me for verification.
This is not an easy thing but those of you who have made efforts
in this manner, must have forgotten my two previous lectures.
Yesterday evening, I said:
Self-cultivation has no other method;
It requires but knowledge of the way.
We are here to inquire into the hua t'ou which
is the way we should follow. Our purpose is to be clear about
birth and death and to attain Buddhahood. In order to be clear
about birth and death, we must have recourse to this hua t'ou
which should be used as the Vajra King's
precious sword to cut down demons if demons come and Buddhas
if Buddhas come so that no feelings
will remain and not a single thing (dharma) can be set up. In
such a manner, where could there have been wrong thinking about
writing poems and gathas and seeing such states as voidness
and brightness? If you made your
efforts (so wrongly), I really do not know where your hua t'ou
went. Experienced C'han monks do not require further talks about
this, but beginners should be very careful.
As I was apprehensive that you might not know
how to undergo your training, I talked during the last two days
about sitting in meditation in a Ch'an week, the worthiness
of this method devised by our Sect and the way of making efforts.
Our method consists in concentrating pointedly on a hua t'ou
which should not be interrupted by day or night in the same
way as running water. It should be spirited and clear and should
never be blurred. It should be clearly and constantly cognizable.
All worldly feelings and holy interpretations should be cut
down (by it). An ancient (master) said:
Study the truth as you would defend a citadel
Which, when besieged, (at all costs) must be held.
if intense cold strikes not to the bone,
How can plum blossom fragrant be?
These four lines came frorn (Master) Huang Po
and have two meanings. The first two illustrate those who undergo
the (Ch'an) training and who should hold firm the hua t'ou in
the same manner as the defense of a citadel which no foe must
be allowed to enter. This is the unyielding defense (of the
citadel). Each of us has a mind which is the eighth consciousness
(vijnana), as well as the seventh, sixth and the first five
consciousnesses. The first five are the five thieves of the
eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. The sixth consciousness is
the thief of mind (manas). The seventh is the deceptive consciousness
(klista-mano-vijnana) which from morning to evening grasps the
eighth consciousness' "subject" and mistakes it for
an "ego". It incites the sixth to lead the first five
consciousnesses to seek external objects (such as) form, sound,
smell, taste and touch. Being constantly deceived and tied the
eighth consciousness-mind is held in bondage without being able
to free itself. For this reason we are obliged to have recourse
to this hua t'ou and use its "Vajra King's Precious Sword"
to kill all these thieves so that the eighth consciousness can
be transmuted into the Great Mirror Wisdom, the seventh into
the Wisdom of Equality, the sixth into the Profound Observing
Wisdom and the first five consciousnesses into the Perfecting
Wisdom. It is of paramount importance
first to transmute the sixth and seventh consciousnesses, for
they play the leading role and because of their power in discriminating
and discerning. While you were seeing the voidness and the brightness
and composing poems and gathas, these two consciousnesses performed
their (evil) functions. Today, we should use this hua t'ou to
transmute the discriminating consciousness into the Profound
Observing Wisdom and the mind which differentiates between ego
and personality into the Wisdom of Equality. This is called
the transmutation of consciousness into wisdom and the transformation
of the worldly into the saintly. It is important not to allow
these thieves who are fond of form, sound, smell, taste, touch
and dharma, to attack us. Therefore, this is likened to the
defense of a citadel.
The last two lines:
If intense cold strikes not to the bone
How can plum blossom fragrant be?
illustrate living beings in the three worlds
of existence who are engulfed in the ocean of birth and death, tied to the
five desires, deceived by their
passions, and unable to obtain liberation. Hence the plum blossom
is used as an illustration, for these plum trees spring into
blossom in snowy weather. In general, insects and plants are
born in the spring, grow in summer, remain stationary in autumn
and lie dormant in winter. In winter, insects and plants either
die or lie dormant. The snow also lays the dust which is cold
and cannot rise in the air. These insects, plants and dust are
likened to our mind's wrong thinking, discerning, ignorance,
envy and jealousy resulting from contamination with the three
poisons. If we rid ourselves of
these (impurities), our minds will be naturally comfortable
and plum blossoms will be fragrant in the snow. But you should
know that these plum trees blossom in the bitter cold and not
in the lovely bright spring or in the mild breeze of charming
weather. If we want our mind-flowers to bloom, we cannot expect
this flowering in the midst of pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy
or (when we hold the conception of) ego, personality, right
and wrong. If we are confused about these eight kinds of mind,
the result will be unrecordable.
If evil actions are committed, the result will be evil. If good
actions are performed, the result will be good.
There are two kinds of unrecordable nature;
that of dreams and of dead emptiness. The unrecordable nature
of dreams is that of illusory things appearing in a dream and
unconnected with usually well-known daily activities. This is
the state of an independent mind-consciousness (mano-vijnana). This is also called an independent unrecordable state.
What is the unrecordable dead emptiness? In
our meditation, if we lose sight of the hua t'ou while dwelling
in stillness, there results an indistinctive voidness wherein
there is nothing. The clinging to this state of stillness is
a Ch'an illness which we should never contract while undergoing
our training. This is the unrecordable dead emptiness.
What we have to do is throughout the day to
hold without loosening our grip the hua t'ou which should be
lively, bright, undimmed and clearly and constantly cognizable.
Such a condition should obtain no matter whether we walk or
sit. For this reason, an ancient master said:
"When walking, naught but Ch'an; when sitting,
naught but Ch'an. Then body is at peace whether or not one talks
Ancestor Han Shan said:
High on a mountain peak
Only boundless space is seen.
How to sit in meditation, no one knows.
The solitary moon shines o'er the icy pool,
But in the pool there is no moon;
The moon is in the night-blue sky.
This song is chanted now,
(But) there's no Ch'an in the song.
You and I must have a co-operating cause, which
is why I have this opportunity of addressing you on the (Ch'an)
training. I hope you will exert yourselves and make steady progress,
and will not wrongly apply your minds.
I will tell you another story, a kung an (or
koan in Japanese). After the founder of the Hsi T'an (Siddham
in Sanskrit) monastery on the Cock's Foot (Chi Tsu) mountain
had left home, he called on enlightened masters (for instruction)
and made very good progress in his training. One day, he stopped
at an inn, and heard a girl in a bean-curd shop singing this
Bean-curd Chang and Bean-curd Li!
While your heads rest on the pillow,
You think a thousand thoughts,
Yet tomorrow you will sell bean-curd again.
The master was sitting in meditation and upon
hearing this song, he was instantaneously awakened.
This shows that when the ancients underwent the training,
there was no necessity of doing it in a Ch'an hall for
experiencing the truth. The (self-) cultivation and training
lie in the One-Mind. So, all of you, please don't allow your
minds to be disturbed in order not to waste your time. Otherwise,
you will be selling bean-curd again tomorrow morning.
The Fifth Day
About this method of (self-) cultivation, it
can be said that it is both easy and difficult. It is easy because
it is really easy and it is difficult because it is really difficult.
It is easy because you are only required to
lay down (every thought), to have a firm faith in it (the method)
and to develop a lasting mind. All this will ensure your success.
It is difficult because you are afraid of enduring
hardships and because of your desire to be at ease. You sould
know all worldly occupations also require study and training
before success can be achieved. How much more so when we want
to learn (wisdom) from the sages in order to become Buddhas
and Patriarchs. Can we reach our goal if we (act) carelessly?
Therefore, the first thing is to have a firm
mind in our self-cultivation and performance of the truth. In
this, we cannot avoid being obstructed by demons. These demoniacal
obstructions are the (external) karmic surroundings caused by
our passions for all form, sound, smell, taste, touch and dharma
as enumerated in my talk yesterday. This karmic environment
is our foe through life and death. For this reason, there are
many sutra expounding Dharma masters who cannot stand firm on
their own feet while in the midst of these surroundings because
of their wavering religious mind.
The next important thing is to develop an enduring
mind. Since our birth in this world, we have created boundless
karmas and if we now wish to cultivate ourselves for the purpose
of escaping from birth and death, can we wipe out our former
habits all at once? In olden times, ancestors such as Ch'an
master Ch'ang Ch'ing, who sat in meditation until he had worn
out seven mats, and (Ch'an master) Chao Chou who wandered from
place to place (soliciting instruction) at the age of eighty
after having spent forty years in meditating on the word 'Wu'
(lit. No) without giving rise to a thought in his mind.
They finally obtained complete enlightenment, and the princes
of the Yen and Chao states revered them and made offerings to
them. In the Ch'ing dynasty, Emperor Yung Cheng (1723-35)
who had read their sayings and had found these excellent,
bestowed upon them the posthumous tide of 'Ancient Buddha'.
This is the resultant attainment after a whole life of austerity.
If we can now wipe out all our former habits to purify our One-thought,
we will be on an equality with Buddhas and Patriarchs. The S'urangama
"It is like the purification
of muddy water stored in a clean container; left unshaken in
complete calmness, the sand and mud will sink to the bottom.
When the clear water appears, this is called the first suppression
of the intruding evil element of passion.
When the mud has been removed leaving behind only the clear
water, this is called the permanent cutting off of basic ignorance."
Our habitual passions are likened to mud and
sediment, which is why we must make use of the hua t'ou. The
hua t'ou is likened to alum used to clarify muddy water in the
same manner as passions are brought under control. If in his
training, a man succeeds in achieving the sameness of body and
mind with the resultant appearance of the condition of stillness,
he should be careful and should never abide in it. He should
know that it is (only) an initial step but that ignorance caused
by passions is still not wiped out. This is (only) the deluded
mind reaching the state of purity, just like muddy water which,
although purified, still contains mud and sediment at the bottom.
You must make additional efforts to advance further. An ancient
Sitting on a pole top one hundred feet in
One will still perceive (that) which is not real.
If from the pole top one then takes a step
One's body will appear throughout the Universe.
If you do not take a step forward, you will
take the illusion-city for your home and your passions will
be able to rise (again). If so, it will be difficult for you
to become even a self-enlightened person.
For this reason, the mud must be removed in order to retain
the (clear) water. This is the permanent wiping out of the basic
ignorance and only then can Buddhahood be attained. When ignorance
has been permanently wiped out, you will be able to appear in
bodily form in the ten directions of the Universe to expound
the Dharma, in the same manner as Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
who can appear in thirty-two forms and who, manifesting to teach
the Dharma, can choose the most appropriate form to liberate
a responsive living being. You will be free from restraint and
will enjoy independence and comfort (everywhere) even in a house
of prostitution, a public bar, the womb of a cow, a mare or
a mule, in paradise or hell.
On the other hand, a discriminating thought
will send you down to the turning wheel of births and deaths.
Formerly, Ch'in Kuai Who had (in
a former life) made offerings of incense and candles to Ksitigarbha
Bodhisattva but did not develop an enduring mind (in his training)
because of his failure to wipe out his ignorance caused by passions,
was the victim of his hatred-mind (in his following reincarnation).
This is just an example.
If your believing-mind is strong and your enduring-mind
does not retrograde, you will, in your present bodily form,
be able to attain Buddhahood, even if you are only an ordinary
Formerly there was a poor and miserable man
who joined the order (sangha) at a monastery. Although he was
keen to practice (self-) cultivation, he did not know the method.
As he did not know whom to ask about it, he decided to toil
and moil every day. One day, a wandering monk came to the monastery
and saw the man toiling. The monk asked him about his practice
and the man replied: "Every day, I do this kind of hard
work. Please show me the method of (self-) cultivation."
The monk replied: "You should inquire into (the sentence:)
'Who is the repeater of Buddha's name ?'" As instructed
by the visiting monk, the man managed to bear the word "Who"
in mind while he did his daily work. Later, he went to stay
in a grotto on an islet to continue his training, using leaves
for clothing and plants for food. His mother and sister who
were still living, heard of his retreat in a grotto on an islet
where he endured hardships in his self-cultivation. His mother
sent his sister to take him a roll of cloth and some provisions.
When she arrived, she saw him seated (in meditation). She called
him but he did not reply, and she shook him but he did not move.
Seeing that her brother neither looked at nor greeted her but
continued his meditation in the grotto, she was enraged, left
the roll of cloth and provisions there and returned home. Thirteen
years later, his sister went again to visit him and saw the
same roll of cloth still lying in the same place.
Later a hungry refugee came to the grotto wherein
he saw a monk in ragged garments; he entered and begged for
food. The monk (got up and) went to the side of the grotto to
pick some pebbles which he placed in a pot. After cooking them
for a while, he took them out and invited the visitor to eat
them with him. The pebbles looked like potatoes and when the
visitor had satisfied his hunger, the monk said to him: "Please
do not mention our meal to outsiders."
Some time later, the monk thought to himself:
"I have stayed here so many years for my (self-) cultivation
and should now form (propitious) causes (for the welfare of
others)." Thereupon, he proceeded to Hsia Men where on the side of a road, he built a thatched hut offering
free tea (to travelers). This took place in Wan Li's reign (1573-1619)
about the time the empress mother passed away. The emperor
wanted to invite eminent monks to perform (Buddhist) ceremonies
for the welfare of his deceased mother. He first intended to
invite monks in the capital but at the time, there were no eminent
monks there. (One night) the emperor saw in a dream his mother
who said that there was one in the Chang Chou prefecture of
Fu Chien province. The emperor sent officials there to invite
local monks to come to the capital for the ceremonies. When
these monks with their bundles set out on their journey to the
capital, they passed by the hut of the poor monk who asked them:
"Venerable masters, what makes you so happy and where are
you going?" They replied: "We have received the emperor's
order to proceed to the capital to perform ceremonies for the
spirit of the empress mother." The poor monk said: "May
I go with you?" They replied: "You are so miserable,
how can you go with us?" He said: "I do not know how
to recite sutras but I can carry your bundles for you. It is
worth while to pay a visit to the capital." Thereupon,
he picked up the bundles and followed the other monks to the
When the emperor knew that the monks were about
to arrive, he ordered an official to bury a copy of the Diamond
Sutra under the doorstep of the palace. When the monks arrived,
they did not know anything about the sutra, crossed the doorstep
and entered the palace one after another. When the miserable
monk reached the threshold, he knelt upon his knees and brought
his palms together but did not enter (the palace). In spite
of the door-keepers who called him and tried to drag him in,
he refused to enter. When the incident was reported to the emperor
who had ordered the burial of the sutra, he realized that the
holy monk had arrived and came personally to receive him. He
said: "Why don't you enter the palace?" The monk replied:
"I dare not, because a copy of the Diamond Sutra has been
buried in the ground." The emperor said: "Why don't
you stand on your head to enter it?" Upon hearing this,
the monk placed his hands upon the ground and somersaulted into
the palace. The emperor had the greatest respect for him and
invited him to stay in the inner palace.
When asked about the altar and the ceremony,
the monk replied: "The ceremony will be held tomorrow morning,
in the fifth watch of the night. I will require only one altar
with one leading banner and one
table with incense, candles and fruit for offerings (to Buddhas)."
The emperor was not pleased with the prospect of an unimpressive
ceremony and was at the same time apprehensive that the monk
might not possess enough virtue to perform it. (To test his
virtue), he ordered two maids of honor to bathe the monk. (During
and) after the bath, his genital organ remained unmoved. The
maids of honor reported this to the emperor whose respect for
the monk grew the greater for he realized now that the visitor
was really holy. Preparation was then made according to the
monk's instruction and the following morning, the monk ascended
to his seat to expound the Dharma. Then he ascended to the altar,
joined his palms together (to salute) and holding the banner,
went to the coffin, saying:
In reality I do not come;
(But) in your likes you are one-sided.
In one thought to realize there is no birth
Means that you will leap o'er the deva realms.
After the ceremony, the monk said to the emperor:
"I congratulate you on the liberation of her majesty the
Empress Mother." As the emperor was doubting the efficiency
of a ceremony which ended in such a manner, he heard in the
room the voice of the deceased saying: "I am now liberated;
you should bow your thanks to the holy master."
The emperor was taken aback, and his face beamed
with delight. He paid obeisance to the monk and thanked him.
In the inner palace, a vegetarian banquet was offered to the
master. Seeing that the emperor was wearing a pair of colored
trousers, the monk fixed his eyes on them. The emperor asked
him: "Does the Virtuous One like this pair of trousers?"
and taking them off he offered them to the visitor who said:
"Thank your Majesty for his grace."
Thereupon, the emperor bestowed upon the monk the tide of State
Master Dragon Trousers. After the banquet, the emperor led the
monk to the imperial garden where there was a precious stupa.
The monk was happy at the sight of the stupa and stopped to
admire it. The emperor asked "Does the State Master like
this stupa?" The visitor replied: "It is wonderful!"
The emperor said: "I am willing to offer it to you with
reverence." As the host was giving orders to remove the
stupa to Chang Chou, the monk said: "There is no need,
I can take it away." After saying this, the monk placed
the stupa in his (1ong) sleeve, rose in the air and left. The
emperor stunned and overjoyed at the same time, praised the
Dear friends, it is a (wonderful) story indeed
and it all came about simply because from the time he left his
home, the monk never used his discriminating mind and had a
lasting faith in the truth. He did not care for his sister who
came to see him, paid no attention to his ragged garments, and
did not touch the roll of cloth lying thirteen years in the
grotto. We must now ask ourselves if we can undergo our training
in such a manner. It would be superfluous to talk about our
inability to follow the monk's example when our sisters come
to see us. It is enough to mention the attitude we take after
our meditation when, while walking, we cannot refrain from gazing
at our leader when he offers incense or at our neighbor's movements.
If our training is done in this manner, how can our hua t'ou
be firmly held?
Dear friends, you have only to remove the mud
and retain the water. When the water is clear, automatically
the moon will appear. Now it is
time to give rise to your hua t'ou and to examine it closely.
The Sixth Day
The ancients said: "Days and months pass
quickly like a shuttle (and) time flies like an arrow."
Our Ch'an week began only the other day and will come to an
end tomorrow. According to the standing rule, an examination
will be held tomorrow morning, for the purpose of a Ch'an week
is to set a time limit for experiencing (the truth). By experiencing,
it means awakening to and realization (of the truth). That is
to say, the experiencing of one's fundamental self and the realization
of the Tathagata's profound nature. This is called the experiencing
and realization (of the truth).
Your examination is for the purpose of ascertaining
the extent to which you have reached attainment during these
seven days and you will have to disclose your achievement to
the assembly. Usually this examination is called the collection
of (the bill of) fare from all
of you. (This means that) you must all appear for this examination.
In other words, all of you must be awakened (to the truth) so
that you can expound the Buddha Dharma for the liberation of
all the living. Today, I am not saying I expect that you must
all be awakened to the truth. If even one of you is awakened,
I can (still) collect this bill of fare. That is to say, one
person will pay the bill for the meals served to the whole assembly.
If all of us develop a skilful and progressive mind in quest
of the truth, we will all be awakened to it. The ancients said:
"It is easy for a worldly man to win
(But) hard indeed is it to bring wrong thinking to an end."
It is only because of our insatiable desires
since the time without beginning that we now drift about in
the sea of mortality, within which there are 84,000 passions
and all sorts of habits which we cannot wipe out. (In consequence),
we are unable to attain the truth and to be like Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas who are permanently enlightened and are free from
delusion. For this reason, (Master) Lien Ch'ih said:
It is easy to be caught up in the causes
(But) to earn truth producing karma is most hard.
If you cannot see behind what can be seen,
Differentiated are (concurrent) causes,
(Around you) are but objects which, like gusts of wind,
Destroy the crop of merits (you have sown).
The passions of the mind e'er burst in flames,
Destroying seeds of Bodhi (in the heart).
If recollection of the truth
be as (intense as) passion,
Buddhahood will quickly be attained.
If you treat others as you treat the self;
All will be settled (to your satisfaction).
If self is not right and others are not wrong,
Lords and their servants will respect each other.
If the Buddha-dharma's constantly before one,
From all passions this is liberation.
How clear and how to the point are these lines!
The (word) pollution means (the act of) making unclean. The
realm of worldly men is tainted with desires of wealth, sensuality,
fame and gain as well as anger and dispute. To them, the two
words "religion" and "virtue" are only obstacles.
Every day, they give way to pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy
and long for wealth, honor, glory and prosperity. Because they
cannot eliminate worldly passions, they are unable to give rise
to a single thought of the truth. In consequence, the grove
of merits is ruined and all seeds of Bodhi are destroyed. If
they are indifferent to all worldly passions; if they give equal
treatment to friends and foes; if they refrain from killing,
stealing, committing adultery, lying and drinking intoxicating
liquors; if they are impartial to all living beings; if they
regard other people's hunger as their own; if they regard other
people's drowning as if they get drowned themselves; and if
they develop the Bodhi mind, they will be in agreement with
the truth and will also be able to attain Buddhahood at a stroke.
For this reason, it is said: "If recollection of the truth
be (as intense) as passions, Buddhahood will quickly be attained."
All Buddhas and saints appear in the world to serve the living,
by rescuing them from suffering, by bestowing happiness upon
them and by aiding them out of pity.
We can practice self-denial as well as compassion
for others, thus foregoing all sorts of enjoyment. (if we can
do so), no one will have to endure suffering and there will
remain nothing that cannot be accomplished. It will follow that
we will be able to obtain the full fruit of our reward, in the
same manner as a boat rises automatically with the tide. When
dealing with others, if you have a compassionate and respectful
mind, and are without self-importance, arrogance and deception,
they will certainly receive you with respect and courtesy. On
the other hand, if you rely on your abilities and are unreasonable,
or if you are double-faced aiming only at (your own enjoyment
of) sound, form, fame and wealth, the respect with which they
may receive you, will not be real. For this reason, Confucius
said: "If you respect others, they will always respect
you. If you have sympathy for others, they will always have
sympathy for you.
The Sixth Patriarch said:
"Although their faults are
theirs and are not ours, should we discriminate, we too are
Therefore, we should not develop a mind which
discriminates between right and wrong and between self and others.
If we serve other people in the same manner as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
did, we will be able to sow Bodhi seeds everywhere and will
reap the most excellent fruits. Thus, passions will never be
able to hold us in bondage.
The twelve divisions of the Mahayana's Tripitaka
were expounded by the World Honored One because of our three
poisons, concupiscence, anger and stupidity. Therefore, the
aims of the twelve divisions of this Tripitaka are: discipline
(s'ila) imperturbability (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna). Their
purpose is to enable us to wipe out our desires, to embrace
(the four infinite Buddha states of mind): kindness (maitri),
pity (karuna), joy (mudita)
and indifference (upeksa)
and all modes of salvation,
to eliminate the delusion of ignorance and the depravity
of stupidity, to achieve the virtue of complete wisdom and to
embellish the meritorious Dharmakarya. If we can take such a
line of conduct, the Lotus treasury
will appear everywhere.
Today, most of you who have come for this Ch'an
week, are virtuous laymen (upasakas). You should subdue your
minds in an appropriate manner and get rid of all bondages.
I will now tell you another kung an so that you can follow the
example (given by those mentioned in it). If I do not tell it,
I am afraid you will not acquire the Gem and will go home empty-handed,
and (at the same time) I will be guilty of a breach of trust.
Please listen attentively:
In the T'ang dynasty, there was an upasaka whose
name was P'ang Yun, alias Tao Hsuan, and whose native town was
Heng Yang in Hu Nan province. He was originally a Confucian
scholar and since his youth, he realized (the futility of) passions
and was determined in his search for the truth.
At the beginning of Chen Yuan's reign (A.D.
785-804), he heard of master Shih T'ou's learning and
called on him (for instruction). (When he saw the master), he
asked him: "Who is the man who does not take all dharmas
as his companions?" Shih T'ou
stretched Outhis hand to close P'ang Yun's mouth and the visitor
immediately understood the move.
One day, Shi T'ou asked P'ang Yun: "Since
you have seen this old man (i.e. me), what have you been doing
each day?" P'ang Yun replied: "If you ask me what
I have been doing, I do not know how to open my mouth (to talk
about it)." Then he presented the following poem to Shih
There is nothing special about what I do
I only keep myself in harmony with it,
Everywhere I neither accept nor reject anything.
Nowhere do I confirm or refute a thing.
Why do people say that red and purple differ?
There's not a speck of dust on the blue mountain.
Supernatural powers and wonder-making works
Are but fetching water and the gathering of wood,
Shi T'ou approved of the poem and asked P'ang
Yun: "Will you join the Sangha order or will you remain
a layman (upasaka)?" P'ang Yun replied: "I will act
as I please," and did not shave his head.
Later, P'ang Yun called on (master) Ma Tsu and
asked him: "Who is the man who does not take all dharmas
as his companions?" Ma Tsu replied: "I will tell you
this after you have swallowed all the water in the West River."
Upon hearing this, P'ang Yun was instantaneously awakened to
the profound doctrine. He stayed two years at the monastery
(of Ma Tsu).
Since his complete realization of his fundamental
nature, the Upasaka gave up all worldly occupations, dumped
into the Hsiang River his whole fortune amounting to 10,000
strings of gold and silver (coins) and made bamboo-ware to earn
One day, while chatting with his wife on the
doctrine of the unborn, the Upasaka said: "Difficult! Difficult!
Difficult! (It is like unpacking and) distributing ten loads
of sesame seeds on the top of a tree."
His wife interjected: "Easy! Easy! Easy!
A hundred blades of grass are the masters' indication."
Hearing their dialogue, their daughter Ling
Chao said laughingly: "Oh, you two old people! How can
you talk like that?" The Upasaka said to his daughter:
"What, then, would you say?" She replied: "It
is not difficult! And it is not easy! When hungry one eats and
when tired one sleeps."
P'ang Yun clapped his hands, laughed and said:
"My son will not get a wife; my daughter will not have
a husband. We will all remain together to speak the language
of the un-born." Since then,
his dialectic powers became eloquent and forcible and he was
When the Upasaka left (master) Yo Shan, the
latter sent ten Ch'an monks to accompany him to the front door
(of the monastery). Pointing his finger at the falling snow,
the Upasaka said to them: "Good snow! The flakes do not
fall elsewhere." A Ch'an monk named Ch'uan asked him: "Where
do they fall?" The Upasaka slapped the monk in the face,
and Ch'uan said: "You can't act so carelessly." The
Upasaka replied: "What a Ch'an monk you are! The god of
the dead will not let you pass." Ch'uan asked: "Then
what does the (Venerable) Upasaka mean?" The Upasaka slapped
him again and said: "You see like the blind and you talk
like the dumb."
The Upasaka used to frequent places where sutras
were explained and commented on. One day, he listened to the
expounding of the Diamond Sutra, and when the commentator came
to the sentence on the non-existence of ego and personality,
he asked: "(Venerable) Sir, since there is neither self
nor other, who is now expounding and who is listening?"
As the commentator could not reply, the Upasaka said: "Although
I am a layman, I comprehend something." The commentator
asked him: "What is the (Venerable) Upasaka's interpretation?"
The Upasaka replied with the following poem:
There is neither ego nor personality,
Who is distant then and who is intimate?
Take my advice and quit your task of comment
Since that cannot compare with the direct quest of the truth.
The nature of the Diamond Wisdom
Contains no foreign dust.
The words "I hear", "I believe" and "I
Are meaningless and used expediently.
After hearing the poem, the commentator was
delighted (with the correct interpretation) and praised (the
One day, the Upasaka asked Ling Chao: "How
do you understand the ancients' saying: 'Clearly there are a
hundred blades of grass; clearly these are the Patriarchs' indication?'"
Ling Chao replied: "Oh you old man, how can you talk like
that?" The Upasaka asked her: "How would you say it?"
Ling Chao replied: "Clearly there are a hundred blades
of grass; clearly these are the Patriarchs' indication."
The Upasaka laughed (approvingly).
(When he knew that) he was about to die, he
said to Ling Chao:
"(Go out and) see if it is early or late;
if it is noon, let me know." Ling Ghao went out and returned,
saying: "The sun is in mid-heaven, but unfortunately is
being swallowed by the heaven-dog.
(Father) why don't you go out to have a look?" Thinking
that her story was true, he left his seat and went outside.
Thereupon. Ling Chao (taking advantage of her father's absence)
ascended to his seat, sat with crossed legs and with her two
palms brought together, and passed away.
When the Upasaka returned, he saw that Ling
Chao had died and said, with a sigh: "My daughter was sharp-witted
and left before me." So he postponed his death for a week,
(in order to bury his daughter).
When magistrate Yu Ti came to inquire after
his health, the Upasaka said to him:
Vow only to wipe out all that is;
Beware of making real what is not.
Life in this (mortal) world
A shadow is, an echo.
After saying this, he rested his head on the
magistrate's knees and passed away. As willed by him, his body
was cremated and the ashes were thrown into the lake.
His wife heard of his death and went to inform
her son of it. Upon hearing the news, the son (stopped his work
in the field), rested his chin on the handle of his hoe and
passed away in a standing position. After witnessing these three
successive events, the mother retired (to an unknown place)
to live in seclusion.
As you see, the whole family of four had supernatural
powers and could do works of wonder and these laymen who were
also upasakas like you, were of superior attainments. At present,
it is impossible to find men of such outstanding ability not
only among you upasakas (and upasikas) but also among monks
and nuns who are no better than myself, Hsu Yun. What a disgrace!
Now let us exert ourselves again in our training!
The Seventh Day
Dear friends, allow me to congratulate you for
the merits you have accumulated in the Ch'an week which comes
to an end today. According to the standing rule, those of you
who have experienced and realized (the truth) should come forward
in this hall as did candidates who sat for a scholar's examination
held previously in the imperial palace. Today, being the day
of posting the list of successful graduates, should be one for
congratulations. However, (the venerable) abbot has been most
compassionate and (has decided to) continue this Ch'an meeting
for another week so that we can all make additional efforts
for further progress (in self-cultivation).
All the masters who are present here and are
old hands in this training, know that it is a wonderful opportunity
for co-operation and will not throw away their precious time.
But those who are beginners, should know that it is difficult
to acquire a human body and that
the question of birth and death is important. As we have human
bodies, we should know that it is difficult to get the chance
to hear the Buddha Dharma and meet learned teachers. Today you
have come to the "precious mountain" and should take advantage of this excellent opportunity
to make every possible effort (in your self-cultivation) in
order not to return home empty-handed.
As I have said, our Sect's Dharma which was
transmitted by the World Honored One when he held up a flower
to show it to the assembly, has been handed down from one generation
to another. Although Ananda was a cousin of the Buddha and left
home to follow him as an attendant, he did not succeed in attaining
the truth in the presence of the World Honored One. After the
Buddha had entered nirvana, his great disciples assembled in
a cave (to compile sutras) but Ananda was not permitted by them
to attend the meeting. Mahakasyapa said to him: "You have
not acquired the World Honored One's Mind Seal, so please pull
down the banner-pole in front of the door." Thereupon,
Ananda was thoroughly enlightened. Then Mahakasyapa transmitted
to him the Tathagata's Mind Seal, making him the second Indian
Patriarch. The transmission was handed down to following generations,
and after the Patriarchs Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna, Ch'an master
Hui Wen of T'ien T'ai mountain in the Pei Ch'i dynasty (A.D.
550-578) after reading (Nargajuna's) Madhyamika Sastra, succeeded
in realizing his own mind and founded the T'ien T'ai School.
At the time, our Ch'an Sect was very flourishing. Later, when
the T'ien T'ai School fell into decadence, State master Teh
Shao (a Ch'an master) journeyed to Korea (where the only copy
of Chih I's works existed), copied it and returned to revive
Bodhidharma who was the twenty-eighth Indian
Patriarch, came to the East where he became the first (Chinese)
Patriarch. From his transmission (of the Dharma) until the (time
of the) Fifth Patriarch, the Mind-lamp shone brilliantly. The
Sixth Patriarch had forty-three successors among whom were (the
eminent) Ch'an masters Hsing Szu and Huai Jang. Then came (Ch'an
master) Ma Tsu who had eighty-three successors. At the time,
the Right Dharma reached its zenith and was held in reverence
by emperors and high officials. Although the Tathagata expounded
many Dharmas, the Sect's was the unsurpassed one.
As to the Dbarma which consists in repeating
only the name of Amitabha (Buddha), it was extolled by (Ch'an
Patriarchs) Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna,
and after master Hui Yuan, Ch'an
master Yen Shou of the Yung Ming monastery became the Sixth
Patriarch of the Pure Land Sect (Chin T'u Tsung), which
was subsequently spread by many other Ch'an masters.
After being propagated by Ch'an master I Hsing,
the Esoteric Sect spread to Japan
but disappeared in China where there was no one to succeed to
The Dharmalaksana Sect
was introduced by Dharma master Hsuan Tsang but did not last
Only our (Ch'an) Sect (is like a stream) which
is still flowing from its remote source bringing devas into
its fold and subduing dragons and tigers.
Lu Tung Pin, alias Shun Yang, a native of Ching
Ch'uan, was one of the (famous) group of eight immortals.
Towards the end of the T'ang dynasty, he stood thrice for the
scholar's examination but failed each time. Being disheartened,
he did not return home, and one day, he met by chance in a wine-shop
at Ch'ang An, an immortal named Chung Li Ch'uan who taught him
the method of lengthening his span of life infinitely. Lu Tung
Pin practiced the method with great success and could even become
invisible and fly in the air at will all over the country. One
day, he paid a flying visit to the Hai Hui monastery on Lu Shan
mountain; in its bell tower, he wrote on the wall:
(After) a day of leisure when the body is
The six organs (now) in harmony,
announce that all is well.
With a gem in the pubic region
there's no need to search for truth,
When mindless of surroundings, there's no need for Ch'an.
Some time later, as he was crossing the Huang
Lung mountain, he beheld (in the sky) purple clouds shaped like
an umbrella. Guessing that there must be some extraordinary
person (in the monastery there), he entered it. It happened
at the same time that in the monastery, after beating the drum,
(Ch'an master) Huang Lung was ascending to his seat (to expound
the Dharma). Lu Tung Pin followed the monks and entered the
hall to listen to the teaching.
Huang Lung said to the assembly: "Today
there is here a plagiarist of my Dharma; the old monk (i.e.
I) will not expound it." Thereupon, Lu Tung Pin came forward
and paid obeisance to the master, saying: "I wish to ask
the Venerable Master the meaning of these lines:
A grain of corn contains the Universe:
The hills and rivers (fill) a small cooking-pot."
Huang Lung scolded him and said: "What
a corpse-guarding devil (you are)." Lu Tung Pin retorted:
"But my gourd holds the immortality giving medicine."
Huang Lung said: "Even if you succeed in living 80,000
aeons, you will not escape from
falling into the dead void." Forgetting all about the (fortitude
advocated in his own line:)
"When mindless of surroundings there's
no need for Ch an."
Lu Tung Pin burned with anger and threw his
sword at Huang Lung. Huang Lung pointed his finger at the sword
which fell to the ground and which the thrower could not get
back. With deep remorse, Lu Tung Pin knelt upon his knees and
inquired about the Buddha Dharma. Huang Lung asked: "Let
aside (the line:) 'The hills, and rivers (fill) a small cooking-pot'
about which I do not ask you anything. (Now) what is the meaning
of: 'A grain of corn contains the Universe'?" Upon hearing this (question), Lu Tung Pin instantaneously
realized the profound (Ch'an) meaning. Then, he chanted the
I throw away my gourd and smash my lute.
In future I'll not cherish gold in mercury.
Now that I have met (the master) Huang Lung,
I have realized my wrong use of the mind.
This is the story of an immortal's return to
and reliance on the Triple Gem and his entry into the monastery
(Sangharama) as a guardian of the Dharma. Lu Tung Pin was also
responsible for reviving the Taoist Sect at the time and was
its Fifth (Tao) Patriarch in the North. The Taoist Tzu Yang
also realized the mind after reading the (Buddhist) collection
"Tsu Ying Chi" and became the Fifth (Tao) Patriarch
in the South. Thus the Tao faith
was revived thanks to the Ch'an Sect.
Confucius' teaching was handed down until Mencius
after whom it came to an end. In the Sung dynasty Confucian
scholars (also) studied the Buddha Dharma, and among them, (we
can cite) Chou Lien Ch'i who practiced the Ch'an training and
succeeded in realizing his mind, and others such as Ch'eng Tzu,
Chang Tzu and Chu Tzu (all famous Confucians). Therefore, the
Ch'an Sect contributed (in no small measure) to the revival
Nowadays, there are many people who despise
the Ch'an Dharma and who even make slanderous remarks about
it, thus deserving hell.Today,
we have this excellent opportunity of being favored with a co-operating
cause (which gathers us here). We should feel joy and should
take the great vow to become objects of reverence for dragons
and devas and to perpetuate the Right Dharma forever. This is
no child's play; so please make strenuous efforts to obtain
more progress in your self-cultivation.
 The 12 divisions
of the Mahayana canon are: (1) sutra, the Buddha's
sermons; (2)geya, metrical pieces; (3)gatha, poems or
chants; (4) nidana, sutras written by request or in
answer to a query, because certain precepts were
violated and because of certain events; (5) itivrttaka,
narratives; (6) jataka, stories of former lives of
Buddha; (7) adbhuta-dharma, miracles; (8) avadana,
parables, metaphors, stories, illustrations; (9)
upadesa, discourses and discussions by question and
answer; (10) udana, impromptu, or unsolicited addresses;
(11) vaipulya, expanded sutras; (12) vyakarana,
 Hsing Szu
inherited the Dharma from the Sixth Patriarch and was
called the Seventh Ancestor because his two
Dharma-descendants Tung Shan and Ts'ao Shan founded the
Ts'ao Tung sect, which was one of the five Ch'an sects
 Of the method of
gradual enlightenment which took many aeons to enable an
adherent to attain the Buddha-stage.
 The four Noble
Truths are: Misery; the accumulation of misery, caused
by passions; the extinction of passions, being possible;
and the doctrine of the Path leading to extinction of
 A Ch'an term which
means an unwanted thing which hinders self-realization.
 Usually One hour.
The longer sticks take an hour and a half to burn.
 Life-root. A root,
or basis for life, or reincarnation, the nexus of
Hinayana between two life-periods, accepted by Mahayana
as nominal but not real. The Chinese idiom "to sit
on and to crack" is equivalent to the Western term
'to break up'.
 Wu Wei. Asamskrta
in Sanscrit, anything not subject to cause, condition or
dependence; out of time, eternal, inactive,
 Samskrta. Yu Wei
in Chinese, active, creative, productive, functioning.
causative, phenomenal, the process resulting from the
laws of karma.
 Ordinary mind =
discrimination, the acts of wearing clothes and eating
and all our activities are nothing but the functions of
the self-nature; and One reality is all reality. On the
other hand if the mind discriminates when one wears
one's robe or takes one's meal, everything around one
will be the phenomenal.
 Ta Mei. In
deference to him, the master was called after the name
of the mountain where he stayed.
 The mountains
are immutable and symbolize the unchanging self-nature,
whereas their colours (blue and yellow) change and
symbolize appearance, i.e. the phenomenal. Ta Mei's
reply meant that his self-nature was the same and beyond
 If your mind
wanders outside, it will follow the stream of birth and
 When the mind is
free from passions, it is like a withered log which is
indifferent to its surroundings and does not
"grow" any more in spite of the spring, the
season of the year in which trees begin to grow after
lying dormant all winter. A mind free from delusion
remains unchanged and indifferent to all changes in its
surrounding and to those who hunt after it.
 Because his
disciples clung to his saying: "Mind is
Buddha," Ma Tsu said to them: "It is neither
mind nor Buddha" so that they ceased to cling,
which was the cause of their delusion.
 Ta Mei means
"Big Plum". Ma Tsu confirmed that master Ta
Mei was ripe, i.e. enlightened.
 Quotation from
Yung Chia's "Song of Enlightenment". Avici is
the last and deepest of the eight hot hells, where
sinners suffer, die, and are instantly reborn to
suffering, without interruption. Ksana is the shortest
measure of time, as kalpa is the longest.
 The instant one
perceives only stillness and experiences liveliness; it
is called in Ch'an parlance "reaching the top of a
hundred-foot pole." All masters advised their
disciples not to abide in this state which was not real.
Master Han Shan composed "The Song of the
Board-bearer" to warn his followers against
"silent immersion in stagnant water." This
state is called "life" and is the fourth of
the four signs (laksana) mentioned in the Diamond Sutra.
(See Part 3.)
 Karmadana: the
duty-distributor, second in command of a monastery.
 After a
meditation, the monks used to march quickly in single
file to relax their legs, preceded by the Karmadana and
followed by the abbot.
 Realm of the
five skandhas: the present world as the state of the
five aggregates. The best place in which to hold the hua
t'ou is between the pit of the stomach and the navel. A
meditator may have all kinds of visions before his
attainment of enlightenment, and these visions belong to
the realm of the five skandhas, i.e. are creations of
his mind. His master would instruct him to remain
indifferent, to neither "accept" nor
"reject" these visions which will disappear
before the meditator makes further progress in the right
 To go straight
home. A Ch'an idiom meaning the return to the
self-nature, i.e. realization of the real.
"Home" is our self-natured Buddha.
 Baggage: our
body, mind and all the seeming which we hold dear.
 That which has
no birth and death, i.e. the eternal self-nature.
One of the three divisions of the canon or Tripitaka. It
emphasizes the discipline. The other two divisions are:
sutras (sermons) and sastras (treatises).
 The two forms of
Karma resulting from one's past are: (1) the resultant
person, symbolized by a hair, and (2) the dependent
condition or environment, e.g. country, family,
possessions, etc., symbolized by the ocean. These two
forms being illusory only, they penetrate each other
without changing the self-nature, or the nature-ocean
(see note 28) which is beyond time and space.
The ocean of the Bhutatathata, the all-containing,
immaterial nature of the Dharmakaya.
 The appearance
of a Buddha is as rare as the hitting of a needle's
point with a fine mustard-seed thrown from a devaloka.
Even an accurate hit does not move the immutable
 Saiksa, need of
study; asaiksa, no longer learning, beyond study, the
state of arhatship, the fourth of the sravaka stages;
the preceding three stages requiring study. When the
arhat is free from all illusion, he has nothing more to
 Dignity in
walking, standing, sitting and lying.
 A Commentary on
the Diamond Sutra by Tao Yin of the Ch'ing Lung
 Tien hsin,
pastry, snack; refreshment to keep up one's spirits.
 Lung T'an was an
enlightened master. The sentence: "You have really
arrived at the Dragon Pond" means: "You have
really attained the state of Lung T'an or enlightenment
for the real is invisible and does not appear before the
eyes of the unenlightened." Teh Shan did not
understand its meaning and remained speechless. This was
the second time he remained speechless, the first being
when the old woman asked him about the past, present and
future mind. He was still unenlightened but became later
an eminent Ch'an master after his awakening.
 Lung T'an was an
eminent master and knew the moment was ripe to enlighten
Teh Shan. The latter perceived the master's self-nature
through its function which blew out the torch. At the
same time, Teh Shan perceived also that which
"saw" the torch blown out, i.e. his own
 Old monks all
over the country: a Chinese idiom referring to eminent
Ch'an masters who were intransigent and exacting when
teaching and guiding their disciples. Readers may learn
about these masters by studying their sayings which seem
ambiguous but are full of deep meaning.
 A fellow who was
awe-inspiring like the two hells where there are hills
of swords or sword-leaf trees and blood baths as
punishments for sinners. Lung T'an foretold the severity
with which Teh Shan would receive, teach and train his
disciples. Those wishing to familarize themselves with
these awe-inspiring things should read Dr. W. Y.
Evans-Wentz's The Tibetan Book
of the Dead (Oxford University
 Ch'an masters
frequently used their staffs to strike their disciples
to provoke their awakening. The stroke of the staff here
referred to Teh Shan's enlightenment after
"seeing" the torch blown out by his master.
Teh Shan did not turn his head, because he was really
enlightened and did not have any more doubt about his
 Will be an
outstanding Ch'an master.
 This walk from
east to west and then from west to east meant the
"coming" and "going" which were
non-existent in the Dharmadhatu wherein the Dharmakaya
remained immutable and unchanging. Teh Shan's question:
"Anything? Anything?" and the reply:
"Nothing, Nothing," served to emphasize the
nothingness in space.
 Nisidana, a
cloth for sitting on.
 Upadhyaya, a
general term for a monk.
 The duster used
by the ancients consisted of long horse hairs attached
to the end of its handle. It was used to reveal the
function of the self-nature.
 The shout was to
reveal that which uttered it, i.e the self-nature.
 Teh Shan took
out and raised his nisidana, calling: "Venerable
Upadhyaya" to show the function of that which took
out and raised the nisidana and called Kuei Shan. When
the latter was about to take the duster to test the
visitor's enlightenment, Teh Shan shouted just to
indicate the presence of the substance of that which
called on the host. Teh Shan left the hall and went away
to show the return of function to the substance. Thus
Teh Shan's enlightenment was complete, because both
function and substance, or Prajna and Samidhi were on a
level. Therefore, he did not require any further
instruction and any test of his attainment would be
superfluous. For this reason, Kuei Shan praised the
visitor, saying: "That man will later go to some
solitary peak... will scold Buddhas and
 Teh Shan would
"scold" unreal Buddhas and "curse"
unreal Patriarchs who existed only in the impure minds
of deluded disciples, for the latter's conditioned and
discriminating minds could create only impure Buddhas
and impure Patriarchs. Teh Shan's teaching was based
only on the absolute Prajna which had no room for
worldly feelings and discernings, the causes of birth
 Lin Chi was the
founder of the Lin Chi Sect, one of the five Ch'an Sects
 Yun Men and Fa
Yen were respective founders of the Yun Men and Fa Yen
Sects, two of the five Ch'an Sects in China.
 If while sitting
in meditation one only takes delight in false visions or
in the wrong interpretation of sutras and sayings, one
will never attain the real.
 The strongest or
sharpest precious sword.
 i.e. false
visions of demons and Buddhas in one's meditation.
usually see the voidness and brightness as soon as all
thoughts are discarded. Although these visions indicate
some progress in the training, they should not be taken
as achievements. The meditator should remain indifferent
to them as they are only the creation of the deluded
mind and should hold firm the hua t'ou.
 Sutra of the
 World of desire,
world of form and formless world.
 The five desires
arising from the objects of the five senses, things
seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched.
 The three
poisons are: concupiscence or wrong desire, hatred or
resentment, and stupidity.
 i.e. neutral,
neither good nor bad, things that are innocent or cannot
be classified under moral categories.
 i.e. when the
sixth consciousness is independent of the first five.
 Click here
for comments on this verse.
 Chang and Li are
the Chinese equivalents of Smith and Brown. [Editor of
the web edition: Two popular family names.]
 In his
meditation, the master had already discarded all
thoughts and upon hearing the song, he instantly
perceived that which heard the song, i.e. the
self-nature. This is called Avalokitesvara's complete
enlightenment by means of hearing, or the successful
turning inward of the faculty of hearing to hear the
self-nature.--Cf. Surangama Sutra.
 Bean-curd is
made of soy-bean and is very cheap, so that only poor
people make it for sale. For this reason, they are never
satisfied with their lot and always want to do something
 The mind which
is bent on the right way, which seeks enlightenment.
 Agantu-klesa in
Sanskrit, the foreign atom, or intruding element, which
enters the mind and causes distress and delusion. The
mind will be pure only after the evil element has heen
 Water is the
symbol of self-nature and mud of ignorance caused by
 A state of empty
stillness in which all thoughts have ceased to arise and
Prajna is not yet attained.
 In contrast with
a Bodhisattva who seeks self-enlightenment to enlighten
 A statesman of
the Sung dynasty, through whom Yueh Fei, a good
commander, was executed; he is universally execrated for
this and his name is now synonymous with traitor.
 Hsia Men, Amoy,
a town on the south coast of Fukien province.
 To lead the
spirit of the deceased to the Pure Land.
 Water is the
symbol of self-nature and the moon of enlightenment.
 Lit. cost of the
 Nidina or cause
of pollution, which connects illusion with the karmic
miseries of reincarnation.
 Good karma which
leads to enlightenment.
 Accumulation of
merits leading to realization of the truth.
 Smrti in
 Quotation from a
hymn chanted by the Sixth Patriarch-(Cf. Altar Sutra,
 Joy on seeing
others rescued from suffering.
 Rising above
these emotions, or giving up all things, e.g.
distinctions of friend and foe, love and hatred, etc.
 The Six
Paramitas are: dana (charity), sila (discipline), ksanti
(patience or endurance), virya (zeal and progress),
dhyana (meditation) and prajna (wisdom).
 Lotus treasury:
Lotus store, or Lotus world, the Pure Land of all
Buddhas in their Sambhogakaya, or Reward bodies.
 In plain English
the question means: Who is the man who has no more
attachments to things, or the phenomenal?
 In Shih T'ou's
move, P'ang Yun perceived that which stretched out the
hand to close his mouth and became awakened to the
self-nature which was invisible and manifested itself by
means of its function.
enlightenment one attends to one's daily task as usual,
the only difference being that the mind no longer
discriminates and harmonizes with its surroundings.
 Mind is now free
from all conceptions of duality.
 The blue
mountain symbolizes that which is immutable and free
from dust, or impurities. A misprint occurs in the
printed text, so I have followed the ancient version of
the story of Upasaka P'ang Yun.
 Carrying water
and fetching wood are the functions of that which
possesses supernatural powers and accomplishes wonderful
works; in other words, the self-nature which is
immaterial and invisible, can be perceived only by means
of its functions which are no longer discriminative.
 He did not join
the Sangha order.
 The one who has
no more attachment to worldly things is the enlightened
self-nature which is beyond description. Ma Tsu gave
this reply, because when one attains enlightenment, his
body or substance pervades everywhere and contains
everything, including the West River which is likened to
a speck of dust inside the immense universe; he knows
everything and does not require any description of
himself.--A misprint in the text has been corrected.
 The Patriarchs'
doctrine was very profound and was as difficult to teach
as the unpacking and distributing of sesame seeds on the
top of a tree, an impossible thing for an unenlightened
 In order to wipe
out the conception of difficulty, the wife said the
doctrine was easy to expound for even the dewdrops on
blades of grass were used by eminent masters to give the
direct indication of that which saw these dewdrops. This
was only easy for enlightened people.
 If it is said
that the doctrine is difficult to understand, no one
will try to learn it. If it is said that it is easy to
understand, people will take it as easy and never attain
the truth. So the daughter took the middle way by saying
that it was neither difficult nor easy. Her idea was
that one who is free from discrimination and who eats
when hungry and sleeps when tired, is precisely the one
meant by eminent masters. Therefore, the doctrine is not
difficult for an enlightened man and not easy for an
unenlightened man, thus wiping out the two extremes
which have no room in the absolute.
 This sentence is
omitted in the Chinese text and is added here to be in
accord with Master Hsu Yun's lecture.
 All Ch'an
masters had compassion for unenlightened people and
never missed a chance to enlighten them. Yo Shan sent
ten Ch'an monks to accompany the eminent visitor to the
front of the monastery so that they could learn
something from him. Out of pity, the Upasaka said:
"Good snow! The flakes do not fall
elsewhere!", to probe the ability of the monks and
to press them hard so that they could realize their
self-minds for the attainment of Buddhahood. However,
the monks seemed ignorant and did not realize that since
the mind created the snow, the snow could not fall
outside the mind. If they could only perceive that which slapped
the unenlightened monk in the face, they would realize
their self-nature. A serious monk would, under the
circumstances, devote all his attention to inquiring
into the unreasonable conduct of the visitor and would
at least make some progress in his training.
 i.e. free from
 The daughter
seemed at first to criticize her father and then
repeated the same sentence to confirm what he had said.
Similar questions and answers are found frequently in
Ch'an texts where Ch'an masters wanted to probe their
disciples' abilities by first criticizing what they
said. Any hesitation on the part of the disciples would
disclose that they only repeated others' sayings without
comprehending them. This was like a trap set to catch
unenlightened disciples who claimed that they had
realized the truth. When a disciple was really
enlightened, he would remain undisturbed and would ask
back the question. When the master was satisfied that
the disciple's understanding was genuine, he would
simply repeat the same sentence to give more emphasis to
what the disciple had said.
 i.e. eclipse of
 Existence and
non-existence are two extremes which should be wiped out
before one can attain the absolute reality.
 i.e. to be
reborn in the human world. The realm of human beings is
difficult of attainment; it is one of suffering and is
the most suitable for self-cultivation, for human beings
have more chance to study the Dharma in order to get rid
of their miseries. The other five worlds of existence
either enjoy too much happiness (devas and asuras) or
endure too much suffering (animals, hungry ghosts and
hells), thus having no chance to learn the Dharma.
 The Sutra of
Contemplation of Mind says: "Like a handless man
who cannot acquire anything in spite of his arrival at
the precious mountain, one who is deprived of the 'hand'
of Faith, will not acquire anything even if he finds the
 The nine
Patriarchs of the T'ien T'ai sect are: (1) Nagarjuna,
(2) Hui Wen of the Pei Ch'i dynasty, (3) Hui Ssu of Nan
Yo, (4) Chih Che, or Chih I, (5) Kuan Ting of Chang An,
(6) Fa Hua, (7) T'ien Kung, (8) Tso Ch'i and (9) Chan
Jan of Ching Ch'i. The 10th, Tao Sui was considered a
patriarch in Japan, because he was the teacher of (the
Japanese) Dengyo Daishi who brought the Tendai system to
that country in the ninth century. The T'ien T'ai (or
Tendai in Japanese) Sect bases its tenets on the Lotus,
Mahaparinirvina and Mahaprajnaparamita Sutras. It
maintains the identity of the Absolute and the world of
phenomena, and attempts to unlock the secrets of all
phenomena by means of meditation.
 The 12th and
14th Patriarchs of the Ch'an sect respectively. Readers
will notice that these two Patriarchs and many other
Ch'an masters were not sectarian and extolled also the
Pure Land School which was also a Dharma door expounded
by the Buddha.
 Hui Yuan was
an eminent master of the Pure Land Sect.
 Chen Yen
Tsung, also called "True Word" Sect, or
Shingon in Japanese. The founding of this Sect is
attributed to Vairocana, through Bodhisattva
Vajrasattva, then through Nigarjuna to Vajramati and to
Dharmalaksana Sect is called Fa Hsiang in Chinese and
Hosso in Japanese. This school was established in China
on the return of Hsuan Tsang, consequent on his
translation of the Yogacarya works. Its aim is to
understand the principle underlying the nature and
characteristics of all things.
 The immortals
practice Taoism and sit in meditation with crossed legs.
Their aim is to achieve immortality by putting an end to
all passions, but they still cling to the view of the
reality of ego and things. They live in caves or on the
tops of mountains and possess the art of becoming
invisible. A Chinese bhiksu who is a friend of mine,
went to North China when he was still young. Hearing of
an immortal there, he tried to locate him. After several
unsuccessful attempts, he succeeded finally in meeting
him. Kneeling upon his knees, my friend implored the
immortal to give him instruction. The latter, however,
refused saying that the visitor was not of his line,
i.e. Taoism. When the young man got up and raised his
head, the immortal had disappeared and only a small
sheet of paper was seen on the table with the word
"Good-bye" on it.
 According to
the ancients, the six viscera are: heart, lungs, liver,
kidney, stomach and gall-bladder.
 Pubic region,
two and a half inches below the navel, on which
concentration is fixed in Taoist meditation.
 The digit 8 in
80,000 symbolizes the 8th Consciousness (Vijnana) which
is an aspect of the self-nature under delusion. The
sentence means that Lu Tung Pin was still unenlightened
in spite of his long life.
 The grain of
corn is created by the mind and reveals the mind which
is immense and contains the whole Universe, also a
creation of the mind. Being hard pressed, Lu Tung Pin
instantly realized his self-mind and was awakened to the
 In ancient
times, Taoists in China claimed to be able to
"extract quicksilver by smelting cinnabar",
i.e. they knew the method which enabled them to become
immortals, or Rsis, in Sanskrit, whose existence was
mentioned by the Buddha in the Surangama Sutra. Their
meditation aimed at the production of a hot current
pervading all parts of the body and successful
meditators could send out their spirits to distant
places. They differed from Buddhists in that they held
the conception of the reality of ego and of dharmas, and
could not attain complete enlightenment. They used to
wander in remote places, equipped with a gourd, a guitar
and a "divine" sword to protect themselves
against demons. Today, adherents of the Taoist Sect are
still found in great number in the Far East.
 Tzu Yang was
an eminent Taoist who was well-versed in the Ch'an
Dharma and his works attested his realization of the
mind. Emperor Yung Cheng considered him a real Ch'an
Buddhist and published his works in "The Imperial
Selection of Ch'an Sayings".
 An evil karma which causes the sinner
to be reborn in the Avici hell. Lit: committing the Avici-karma.